Interview with Holly Black (famous author)
I met with Holly Black about the new series, Spiderwick Cycle Two -- Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles. The first book of three in the new series is THE NIXIE'S SONG, out in the fall. The second book is called A GIANT PROBLEM.
The new book takes place in Florida. There is a new main character, but it still has two old characters, Simon and Jared, who are a little bid older now. Mallory sits this one out. From what Holly told me, the new main character goes to a bookstore and buys a version of the field guide and thinks it's all untrue. Then she meets Jared and Simon, who are there on vacation to see their father.
Some things I learned from our interview: When Holly and illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi were on tour they asked people they met to write entries in a log book if they had ever seen faeries or anything like that. "We were shocked at how many adults and kids said yes. They would say absolutely, I saw a little man and he was at the window."
But she hasn't. "I've never seen anything and I've always wanted to.... It's a constant source of misery to me!" Holly did say, "My mom has seen a bunch of ghosts. I've always wanted to have that experience. I have a friend who said she saw a ghost in my house! My mom always said the house I grew up in was haunted."
Sometimes she writes in a coffee shop and I asked if kids ever come up and ask for an autograph, but "that's never happened. It would be awesome if it did."
Some of the inspiration for her characters: "I was an older sister and I was mean, much in the way Mallory was mean." She got the idea for the character Simon from her husband -- he was always bringing home animals. One day she came home and there was a parrot in her house. A guy gave her husband a parrot and he brought it home.
In their research, they found a funny folklore story about a man who was building a house in the middle of nowhere and everybody kept telling him before you build your house you should consult a faerie expert. He thought that was a stupid idea, and he built his house there. Then, every night he would hear banging on his doors and his pots and pans would clang together.
So finally he went to faerie expert. The expert said, "You could have built your house on a faerie path. There's one path that faeries always use to travel back and forth. They're not going to move for you, I can tell you." The expert came over and stayed for the night, and he told the man you're on a faerie path. But your whole house isn't on the path, only a small corner.
The solution? "We cut off that part of your house." He took out a saw, cut off that corner of the house, and since then, he's never had that problem again. Occasionally, just a loud wind rushing by that corner of the house, just to remind him that it's the faerie path.
Spiderwick is an amazing bestselling young readersï¿½ series. I loved the first series and I hope the second will be just as good. It was awesome to meet Holly Black. Reading a series and then meeting the author and asking her questions was just amazing.
Saturday night I went to a Spiderwick party. There was a documentary on the making of the new cycle by Holly and Tony, and there were pictures from the new movie. In theory, they tried to transform us into sprites. We said a spell all together and then the whole room filled with smoke and two giant steel doors opened up. We went into this room that was full of giant materials -- parking meters the size of me; a hamburger the size of a car tire; tables with giant spearmint gum packages; mushrooms chest high. They had a food table set up in front of a giant pair of blue jeans. We all got membership cards for the International Sprite Association.
Before we turned into sprites, the first room was a study and laboratory almost exactly like the description of Arthur Spiderwick's laboratory in the books. The used actual props from the movie (it's coming out February 2008 from Paramount and Nickelodeon). One of those props was the seeing stoneï¿½also the name of the second book. There's a stone with a hole in it; if you hold it up to your eye you can see fantastical creatures, like goblins. This fits into an eyepiece that has different magnifying glasses on it so you can see small creatures. We got to see the actual ones that they used in the movie. It turns out Hollywood uses short cuts. It looks exactly like the seeing stone, but it's made out of rubber. The eyepiece is mostly made out of plastic and rubber, also.
Discoveries All Over
Jacob being a car lover, he was immediately drawn to the detailed pictures on the covers of the up and coming Chronicle publications, "Mustang Dynasty" and "Corvette Dynasty." These books will come packed with CD's with realistic car sounds and pockets with various artifact sheets containing information on the car shown. But they only had dummy copies available.
When we stopped by Penguin Group, we were happy to find a large poster advertising "Snakehead" showing a stormy sea with a large, graphic snake floating above it. A publicity manager told us that this new installment of Anthony Horowitz's "Alex Rider" series about a 14-year-old MI6 spy had come as a surprise, seeing as there was some question to if "Arkangel" would be the final book. This new book has the UK cover, and Penguin will soon be reissuing the whole series with the UK covers which they feel are bolder than the US ones. If you have read the series, or are just a big fan of the whole "James Bond genre" of books then you should look forward to the release of this book in the fall.
FOR BOYS ONLY, Feiwel and Friends' forthcoming book, is need-to-have for brains and ruffians alike. It has magic tricks, tells you how to escape from different situations, and includes lot of information about super-charged cars (once again, a favorite item for Jacob). Senior VP and publisher Jean Feiwel says, "It is Guinness Book of World Records meets Worst Case Scenario Survival Guide." Feiwel feels the book is more targeted at kids than THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS. This book looks to combine substance and a whole lot of fun.
After we were enticed by HarperCollins' great pitch to us involving food and titles that went with them, ("We wanted to make them hungry for good books," said Nicole Mathieu of Harper) it is only fair to talk about some of their upcoming publications. Harper's biggest fall release for teens is ANA'S STORY by Jenna Bush. This book is about her work in Panama for Unicef and her friendship with a woman named Ana whose parents died of AIDS, and how she had been abused and gotten AIDS as well. This book is targeted at teens interested in activism, and is expected to inspire people to get out and do something about issues in the world.
In middle grade releases go, Harper is publicizing "Nightmare Academy" by the co-executive producer of "Arrested Development" Dean Lorey. This is a fantasy set in contemporary times and is going to be made into a movie by Universal. Another great book to be on the lookout for is the pop-up "Chronicles of Narnia." This book's pop-up scenes are amazing in detail and relevance to the story. In the same way that movies bring stories to life, this book gives Narnia life on a physical piece of paper.
"Camel Rider" looks to be a great new book (I read the first chapter already) set in a fictional town in the Middle East. It is about an Australian and an Arab boy who, after a political incident, have to fend for themselves in the mountains with no common language. The main points of this book are friendship and mutual respect when you put yourself on the line with only trust. From what we could learn from the editor Judy O'Malley, the author saw that children tend to get past things like political struggles quickly, to achieve friendship and peace.
At the Henry Holt booth, we were delighted and saddened to receive a copy of Lloyd Alexanderâs final book "The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio." This book is set in an Aladdin-like Arabia, and is supposedly more adventurous of a story than Alexanderâs others. From what we have been told, Alexander did actually finish and edit this book before he died recently in his mid 80s.
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